The souks (undercover markets) of Aleppo are truly magical. Colourful soap stalls sit next to huge sacks of coffee and walnuts. There are delicious sweet treats to sample and fine fabrics to marvel at. Unforgettable.
In the centre of Aleppo by the Great Mosque.
Google map: bit.ly/gAaD3H
My daughter and I reached Aleppo's souk by bus from Damascus, then by walking through progressively narrower streets, pretty much following the throng.
It was pistachio season and photogenic trays of nuts were on sale right and left. But the souk is great for not bring a tourists' pastiche. It has many rope stalls, plenty of domestic items - much like a UK everyday market with added panache and intimacy.
We ate rich, hot foule (beans with tahini and oil) in a cramped servery with men having their lunch break; then chatted to a young jeweller - I wear his earrings, inlaid with tiny dots of silver, back home in the Midlands. He then recommended a fabric shop and my front door now has a curtain embroidered with pomegranates.
The souk isn't enormous, but is a working place shot through with the skills and traditions of an ancient city.
To top it all you can climb up the ancient settlement and look out over the city, or just meander back to the bus chewing apricots, munching pistachios or pondering more textile purchases in the less atmospheric shops. Syria's many things, including tough for many, but here's a trip in which the old Middle East abuts the new and for that it sticks always in the mind.
Easy from arrival in Aleppo.
Google map: bit.ly/95ynN8
The best coffee I had in the whole of Syria was from a hole in the wall at the entrance of Khan al Gumruk, deep inside the Aleppo souk. The man in charge dispenses tight espressos for pennies.
Tucked into alcove just outside the entrance to the Khan Al Jumruq, Aleppo souq
Last November I went on a photography holiday to Syria with a company called Frui holidays. It was a fantastic trip because I was able to practice my photography in some truly amazing locations such as Palmyra, Krak des Chevaliers and Aleppo. I was also looked after from start to finish by the tutors and guides so I'd also like to recommend Frui holidays.
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